Geek Buffet Not One of World’s 50 Most Powerful Blogs

Sadly, we didn’t make the cut. Nor did any of the blogs our array of authors contribute to or edit. We didn’t get a Bloggie either — heck, we weren’t even nominated! Are we doing something wrong, internet? Apparently our “master plan” to build one of the world’s most powerful blogs is going nowhere, fast.

Actually, we don’t have a “master plan.” (Breathe your sigh of relief here.) Not having said plan makes it that much easier to accept the rejection — or charitably, ignorance — of the real movers and shakers, I suppose. Schadenfreude at the collective weakness of the majority of blogs I read doesn’t hurt either.

I was put in the position last week of having to explain what separated a blog from a website, and further, why a freshly minted travel community should consider having its own regular blog entries rather than relying solely on user-produced content. I gave the example of a blog I frequent — a company which makes money by facilitating budget-friendly hotel bookings for places they’ve culled and authentically recommend. While I’m generally not in the market for their services, I continue to read their daily updates. The benefit to them: regular traffic to their site, their address at the forefront of my brain should I need a cheap hotel, potential commission; the benefit to me: interesting, fresh content, a useful service (booking ease, reliability of product) when I’m in the market. Were there no blog, I would have visited their page once and forgotten the address long ago. Besides providing me with interesting news, insights and ideas, the blog produces a positive returns for the business straightforwardly and inexpensively. Seems like a no-brainer.

They followed up with a more difficult question I’m still deconstructing: would you still be reading that blog if you didn’t blog on that topic?
It’s complicated, isn’t it? Do you remember your internet habits before you began blogging yourself? Maybe you read a handful of the most powerful blogs along with your daily dose of news, porn, and google searching. Why did you make the jump to producing your own content? And did not that jump launch you into a new world of professional and amateur sites on your preferred topic through its self-referential and niche-specialized network? Perhaps you were already deeply entrenched and others in the network encouraged you to start producing your own content? It’s natural then that we write for each other. The question remains: are we writing for anyone BUT ourselves?

The most powerful blogs seem to break through this wall by reaching an audience so large that it cannot possibly be made up ONLY of bloggers. In doing so, many assume the trappings and appearance of traditional media outlets — while traditional media outlets themselves “build communities” and blur the line — to such a degree that some web 1.0 users may not even realize the difference between the two.

Nevertheless, I spend enough time on the internet to know that a good chunk of readers and their mother (and might I say, their mother is the better writer) has a blog these days. A lot of them are really crappy, most of them are irregularly updated, and yet some earn a pretty penny on advertising or commissions. So if someone is joining a travel community to ask for advice and post on the preparations for their trip and then update with photos and recommendations from the road — a kind of mini-blog — they’re likely the type of person who would be drawn in by an interesting blog on the community’s website. While they don’t have something to update their mini-blog with everyday, they may return to the site to read new blog content and leave a comment, thereby building community. They’re a reader who will appreciate permissions marketing. Other readers will be drawn to the content of the blog (via search engine traffic) and begin using the community site. Again, I feel the returns to a traditional business model are fairly clear.

So what is it that makes a blog powerful? Is it in large part simply its ability to harness (and sell tickets for) the attention of thousands or millions who in some small way are aspiring to be just like them, to have a modicum of their success? Or is there something else I’m overlooking?

In your comments, I’d love it if you’d include the following at the end: Are you a blogger? How many of the Guardian’s 50 blogs do you read? Which sites of that caliber do you feel they overlooked? [Yes, 2, PostSecret]

— written by poetloverrebelspy


5 Responses to Geek Buffet Not One of World’s 50 Most Powerful Blogs

  1. TheGNat says:

    I have to admit to being rather out of the loop when it comes to blogs. I never quite jumped onto that bandwagon. I have no idea why blogs are so popular, sorry! I suppose it’s probably at least in part thanks to the “comment” and/or “rate this post” options available – everyone gets to have a say, no matter how dumb they are. Or how little they have to say (that couldn’t possibly be *me*? ^_- )

    I do not blog, and I only comment on 3 blogs, one of which is a class blog I’m *required* to comment on. I read……none of the Guardian’s blogs. In fact, I only read 5 blogs in total. is pretty awesome, and has been around for years (originally as OutPost Nine: I am a Japanese SchoolTeacher).

    Well, I suppose I should amend that I *have* read ICanHasCheesburger, but this is only because I own two cats and can’t resist giving any site that has photos of cats at least a once-over. It amused me, but I didn’t even bookmark it.

  2. Mike Shapiro says:

    PLRS, you’re exactly right that being a blogger creates a kind of spectrum shift in the way you see the web, but I’m not sure that’s a bad thing.

    If we see the net as a source of passive entertainment/information, what distinguishes it from television? But if we create a channel for reasoned intellectual and political discourse, no matter how dumb our comments are we’ll have a chance to work our way toward some sort of thoughtfulness. (Your co-geek Jennie’s recent post is, I think, a perfect example of this in action.)

    And: Yes, 4 (but only 1 of those is in my feed), Bookslut.

  3. Mary says:

    1. Regular posting in such a way that it becomes part of a reader’s routine (like PostSecret every Sunday; it’s now a ritual–and I can’t believe it’s not on the list). 3. Good storytelling (WaiterRant); and I’m sorry and embarrassed to say, celebrity gossip (TMZ). Those are the ones I read, along with Geek Buffet, of course. I like to read blogs about topics that I don’t know much about but that interest me, and the various topics on Geek Buffet serve that purpose.

    I blog primarily as a form of personal journaling, but with content others are allowed to read if they want to. Having it public makes me think more carefully about what I say and how I say it. I’ve actually found it useful to go back and read entries from a few years ago in order to get perspective on what’s happening now.

  4. Dana says:

    I actually started blogging before I really started reading other people’s blogs, as a replacement for the requisite mass emails to be sent while I was living abroad. While living in Japan, I didn’t really read any other blogs about other people living in Japan, unless I knew them (and this was early in the blogging days, so there weren’t that many of those, either.)

    Now I continue to blog, and I go through phases of reading or not reading other blogs. I don’t think I really fall into the category of reading other blogs about the topic I write on at all. When I first went to grad school, I read more ESL and linguistic blogs, but I think that only lasted for a year, because I got burned out thinking about that stuff during my blog-reading time, too. Now, I blog on many different subjects, and I mostly read blogs by people I know, with occasional forays into passive reading of a couple big blogs. Sometimes those blogs touch off a post topic for me; most of the time not.

    Things that make blogs popular:
    -regular updating
    -common theme or unifying factor
    -good writing

    Geek Buffet and my own blog violate a number of these, I know, but I did think about this issue a lot back when I was doing a lot of stuff with using blogs as a teaching tool. I think Mike’s comment about blogs being a place to work toward thoughtfulness (without the formality of an academic paper, say) is a good point, too. This fits in with my own definitions of “good writing.”

    Yes, 0 (well, Dooce extremely irregularly as of a couple months ago), and I’m not sure.

  5. Mary says:

    Oh yeah…I read Dana’s blog regularly because she’s usually doing something interesting regarding travel,books, crafts, culture, martial arts, etc.

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